Friday, March 2, 2012

Question: Recommended Texts and Authors for Comprehensive Exam on Contemporary Systematic Theology

I am currently in the midst of preparing, confirming, and finalizing the questions and texts for my first comprehensive exam, tentatively set for August. The exam is on contemporary systematic theology, and I am focusing largely on developments after Barth.

My three loci are bibliology, ecclesiology, and theological anthropology. Readers' comments have proved quite helpful in the past in approaching certain projects or academic questions, so I thought I would extend an invitation to anyone who might have something to offer in this instance. With regard to the following sets of issues, what authors or texts would you recommend from the past fifty years as essential reading?

Bibliology: Scripture's normativity for theology; its role and authority in the life of the church; the proper Christian approach to its interpretation.

Ecclesiology: The relationship of the church to the wider society; that which constitutes the church's identity across time; the way in which the life of Jesus is normative for the life of the believer/believing community.

Theological anthropology: The concept of the imago dei; the nature of sin and its relation to God's purposes for human life; that in virtue of which human beings are constituted as creatures before God.

Many thanks in advance. Though I obviously won't be able to read everything, it will be deeply beneficial to cull from a large and representative group of works. Any and all suggestions are therefore most welcome.


  1. If it is at all helpful, here are the exams for theology at UChicago:

  2. Re. Bibliology, A.N. Williams' "The Architecture of Theology"

  3. How are you starting your comps so early?!!?!

  4. They're rolling for us. Whenever we want to take them (i.e., when we feel up to it), we go for it. Pros and cons, but definite pro: getting them over one at a time, rather than all at once.

  5. (From Garrett: Beyond Foundationalism; Living and Active by Telford Work.)

  6. A must-read in ecclesiology: *Places of Redemption* by Mary McClintock Fulkerson. Absolutely brilliant, and a harbinger of theology's next big trend: ethnographic theology.

  7. A suggestion for bibliology: Delwin Brown's *Boundaries of Our Habitations*. (In case it isn't obvious, I'm trying to suggest texts that aren't standardly included on such lists, but which perhaps should be.)

  8. And a very unusual suggestion for theological anthropology: Jim Wetzel's *Augustine and the Limits of Virtue*. Almost never included on lists of this sort, but Wetzel has profound insight into the issues you mention.

  9. Brad, depending on the year level of your students, you may want to consider some of the following texts:


    John Webster, 'Holy Scripture: A Dogmatic Sketch'

    Richard Hays, 'The Moral Vision of the New Testament'


    Jürgen Moltmann, 'The Church in the Power of the Spirit: A Contribution to Messianic Ecclesiology'

    John Howard Yoder, 'A Royal Priesthood: Essays Ecclesiological and Ecumenical'

    Colin E. Gunton (ed.), 'Trinity, Time, and Church'

    Dietrich Bonhoeffer, 'Sanctorum Communio: A Theological Study of the Sociology of the Church'

    Dietrich Bonhoeffer, 'Life Together'

    John D. Zizioulas, 'Being As Communion: Studies in Personhood and the Church'

    Miroslav Volf, 'After Our Image: The Church as the Image of the Trinity'

    Theological anthropology:

    Alan Torrance, 'Persons in Communion: an Essay on Trinitarian Description and Human Participation'

    Christoph Schwobel & Colin Gunton (eds), 'Persons, Divine and Human'

    Fyodor Dostoevsky, 'Crime and Punishment'

    Helmut Thielicke, 'Being Human … Becoming Human'

    Pope John Paul II, 'The Theology of the Body: Human Love in the Divine Plan'

    Ray S. Anderson, 'On Being Human: Essays in Theological Anthropology'

    Stanley Grenz, 'The Social God and the Relational Self'

    Thomas Smail, 'Like Father, Like Son'

    Wolfhart Pannenberg, 'Anthropology in Theological Perspective'

  10. I enjoy your blog very much. Probably too late, but suggestions in ecclesiology worth consideration are Lesslie Newbigin's "The Household of God" and Yoder's "Body Politics".